Q. 1. At my Church, there is the Crucifix (Jesus on the Cross) on the back wall behind the Altar where the Holy Mass is celebrated. Also, a few feet to the left of the back wall, there is another Altar on which is placed the Tabernacle.
When passing in the front of the Church, should I bow facing the Crucifix which is at the center of the Church's back wall, or should I face the Tabernacle? Your clarification of this would greatly benefit many parishioners who are divided on this matter.
A. 1. First of all, Catholics believe and teach that Jesus is really present in the Blessed Tabernacle. This is not a fabrication. Jesus is as real in the Tabernacle as you and I are physically present in this world.
Having said said, if a Protestant was in the Church and he was watching you, knowing that Jesus is present in the Tabernacle, if he saw you bowing before the Crucifix instead of the Tabernacle, he would say you are worshipping an idol. The Crucifix is symbolic of Jesus having died on the Cross for our sins; the wooden Jesus on the wooden Cross is not the Real Presence of Jesus. What comes first? Jesus who is present or His symbol?
When passing before the front of the Church, you should stop before the Altar area, turn slighly to face the Tabernacle and bow before your King and Saviour. Never bow before a man made object when Jesus is present in the Tabernacle of the Church. This would be an insult in the face of Jesus.